Experts in trade, tourism, transport, urban design and local government are thrashing out the biggest issues facing the city after today's publication of Project Auckland in the New Zealand Herald.

In 2021, Auckland will host the America's Cup, the Apec leaders' meeting, Women's Cricket World cup, Men's Softball World Cup and Te Matatini festival.

Panel members discussing some of the big issues are:

• Adrian Littlewood, Auckland International Airport chief executive;

• Lester Levy, Auckland Transport chairman;

• Steve Armitage, Auckland Tourism and Economic Developments' destination general manager.

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Read more: A world stage for our stories

Economic Development Minister David Parker says hosting major events will result in substantial international coverage, celebrate our history, and share what makes us tick.

Leaders are now discussing how ready the city is for that slew of major events, how its infrastructure is keeping up with growth, some of the biggest projects and the transformation the city is undergoing.

Mayor Phil Goff and council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid addressed the Project Auckland lunch at the Northern Club just after midday.

Goff told the lunch about the three major issues facing Auckland: "Traffic congestion, a housing shortage and unaffordability and environmental degradation."

Campbell-Reid said the waterfront would be transformed: "Quay St was a motorway. It's going to be a place for people. City Rail Link will transform the way we think and move around the city. It doubles the ability of people to be able to move around the city. The convention centre will be the best in the world because it's designed inside-out. The city is changing and the private sector is investing over and above what the council is doing."

Littlewood of the airport had "grown literally from 15m to 20.4m passengers in four years. We are now much better connected than ever before, into 46 different destinations and 400m people. It's the highways in the sky to join our country with other countries and markets around the world and we're embarking on the biggest redevelopment in our history."

Adrian Littlewood with airport plans. Photo / Anne Gibson
Adrian Littlewood with airport plans. Photo / Anne Gibson

Around $1.6 trillion was going into airports around the world, many built in the 1960s when jet aircrafts were starting to grow, Littlewood told the audience.

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The challenge was who was going to undertake development work, particularly in Auckland, he said, citing a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment document which referred to $41b worth of work alive by 2023 and a shortage of about 30,000 people in New Zealand.

He showed a slide of what the airport would look like in 30 years time, spending $2b in the next five years and possibly another $1b after that so the business was "going foot to the floor. The city is changing from its awkward teenage stage to a confident city of the future."

Armitage of ATEED said the convention centre was already securing conferences of up to 3000 people and one conference would bring specialists in marine environments here - particularly appropriate given Auckland's location on the water.

He showed images of the city's ongoing transformation and the dramatic change in the Viaduct Basin, Tank Farm and the Wynyard Quarter.

But Armitage said Auckland needed to be promoted in its own right: "We need to do a lot to show that Auckland is not just a gateway to Queenstown. We need to communicate better who we are and what this city represents," he said, referring to Campbell-Reid's enthusiasm for the city.

"We all have a role along with the media to explain these events," he said, addressing criticism that the major events were an inconvenience to Auckland residents.

People asked if the city was prepared for 2021 and Armitage said around 4000 new hotel rooms would be developed by then.

Levy of AT told the Project Auckland lunch attended by 110 people that the council-controlled organisation had been involved in 1670 events in the last year, from the Auckland marathon to Christmas in the Park and Anzac events and 2021 had some key events.

"Apec is a 12-month event, it's not a one-week event," Levy said, citing projects including new ferry facilities and Quay St going from four lanes of traffic to two.

Melbourne had just introduced speed controls of 30kmh in urban limits: "If you go from 40kmh to 30kmh, you reduce pedestrian deaths by 20 per cent."

When people came to world events in Auckland during 2021, AT wanted people to be safe, Levy said.